The new Grand Prix circuit at Palembang was tight, jumpy and relentless for what was the first of two back-to-back rounds of MXGP in Indonesia. Temperatures were high and brief showers kept the terrain rough in places. The venue was the scene of another fantastic 1-2 in the overall results by Jorge Prado (who also extended his lead in the championship) and rookie Tom Vialle.
Red Bull KTM were missing their MXGP representatives – Jeffrey Herlings and Tony Cairoli – for the second meeting in a row. Herlings is recovering quickly from a broken lower right leg while Cairoli unexpectedly underwent a corrective operation in Belgium on Saturday.
The Italian decided on further scans after the swelling had subsided on his right shoulder. He had initially hoped to continue racing in 2019 but damage to the Subscapularis and Supraspinatus muscles meant he was advised to have surgery right away. The procedure was performed by Tom Claes (son of renowned surgeon Toon) and the former nine-times world champion is expected to leave hospital today (Sunday) to begin a recovery period that can take between three-four months.
Jorge Prado increased his impressive statistics in 2019 even further at Palembang. The Spaniard rode to results of 1-2 in the motos. From 20 races this year Prado was beaten for only the second time as Thomas Kjer Olsen took the chequered flag in a dramatic second sprint. The eighteen year old’s overall scorecard on the day was enough to guarantee his ninth consecutive Grand Prix win.
Tom Vialle started from 4th position in the gate after his ride in Saturday’s Qualification Heat. Some good starts and impressive speed by the Frenchman across the Indonesian jumps meant he tussled with Prado in both motos (especially the first race when he profited from a small mistake by his teammate to lead until the final stages). He made sure of 2nd place and was then a protagonist at the front in the second. His 3rd position meant a second consecutive runner-up trophy and fourth for the season.
Prado leads the MX2 championship by 51 points from Olsen with Vialle in 4th and closing on the top three.
Jorge Prado: “I had a great start in the first moto and good pace without pushing but then I made a mistake at the end of the waves and hit the floor quite hard. Tom passed me and started to pull away so I had to use a lot of energy to catch him and in the end I was happy with the win. In the second moto I don’t know what happened when I got into the lead. I ran off the track and was losing positions all the way back to seventh. When I could finally get going and pull back to second Thomas was a bit too far away and I was on the limit with my energy. Anyway, it is another GP win and great for the championship. I have good memories of Semarang last year, so let’s keep going.”
Tom Vialle: “Today was very good and I felt great on the track. Fast starts again and a lot to be happy about. When Jorge crashed in the first moto I moved into the lead but started to feel a little bit tired after three laps. The last five minutes were tough and Jorge passed me again. I tried to follow but it was hard work! The rhythm in these races are very high in the first laps so it is important to get good starts and this is another thing to be pleased with this year.”
Tony Cairoli: “It is sad to finish the championship this way and it hasn’t happened too many times in my career. When I tried to ride last week I knew I had some problems but I wanted to stay positive about the recovery. I had more scans in Belgium and the injury was much worse that we thought so they told me to have surgery right away and it was the best solution to get healthy again in the fastest way. Thanks to the team and to the fans for the support. I hope to visit a few races before the end of the season and will now concentrate on getting better.”
MXGP transfers to a different island this week and travels to the Semarang circuit for the second year in a row.